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Support for alternative publishing by public libraries in Scotland

Brookens, A. and Poulter, A. (2007) Support for alternative publishing by public libraries in Scotland. Library Review, 36 (7). pp. 585-602.

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It is proposed that public libraries have a duty to collect material from alternative publishers (in both fiction and non-fiction and in all media) to better reflect the diversity of their communities. This paper aims to investigate the links between alternative publishing and public libraries in Scotland. Two surveys (based on the 1979 Alternative Acquisitions Project) were carried out of alternative publishers and public libraries in Scotland. Questions were based on those in the 1979 survey, except where updated to accommodate new technologies. A literature review was also carried out to contextualise survey findings. While alternative publishers and public libraries were aware of each other, alternative publishers faced many hurdles in getting their material in public libraries. For their part, public libraries were constrained by budgets but wanted to extend support for alternative publishing. This paper re-uses a previously tried and tested methodology to create a comparable and up to date study of an area of publishing often overlooked. Alternative publishing is revealed as a flourishing area, despite trends towards fewer and larger publishing outlets. Public libraries are seen as having a vital role to play in giving an outlet to alternative publishing.